In a column for The Star, Kirsty Sandamas from Citizens Advice Sheffield explains what people in Sheffield can do.
“We’re all now feeling the effects of the growing cost of living crisis.
At Citizens Advice Sheffield, demand for our services is going through the roof, with more than 27,000 clients seeking our support in the past year.
An estimated 17.5 per cent of Sheffield households were in fuel poverty in 2020.
Despite the Government’s support measures, it’s likely many more will be unable to afford the latest price cap rise.
We are now noticing more and more people experiencing ‘negative budgets’, where even after painstaking budgeting support and debt advice, they simply do not have the means to manage their debt repayments and basic living costs.
What actions can you take if you’re struggling financially?
1. Speak to your energy supplier
Our brilliant debt team are working tirelessly to support clients with energy debts, with additional funding support from Northern Powergrid.
One of our dedicated advisers, Jayne, encourages people to contact their suppliers as soon as possible if they think they are running into difficulties. She also advises you to take accurate meter readings regularly, check your benefits entitlement to make sure you are getting everything you should be, and seek specialist advice if you are struggling.
2. Access local support
The Household Support Fund is there to support people struggling to pay for essentials such as food, gas and electricity, and broadband.
You can apply for support directly via the council’s website or if you’re unable to do it yourself, Citizens Advice Sheffield’s volunteers can help.
Volunteer Lucy told us: “Since last November I've spoken to over 300 people struggling to make ends meet over the winter and supported them to receive grants from the Household Support Fund.
“It's been very rewarding to be able to help and also frustrating to realise that a one-off payment cannot make up for the ongoing struggles of living on a low benefit or wage in Sheffield in 2022.”
Working closely with Sheffield City Council, we have secured more than £188,000 from 325 grants awarded to clients in Sheffield since November 2021.
If you live in private rented accommodation and are struggling to pay your rent, the Winter Top Up Fund could help.
Applications for this fund are open until 31 May 2022.
Visit Sheffield City Council’s website for more information on these funds and other local assistance schemes.
It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Citizens Advice Sheffield provides free, independent and impartial advice on a wide range of issues.
Get in touch with us:
Adviceline Freephone: 0808 278 7820 (Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm)
Email: [email protected]
We can also provide advice in different languages, including British Sign Language.”